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Wilf 12-22-2010 09:06 AM

Separation Anxiety?
Hi all,

Okay, where do I start?
My share horse has a very strong bond with her field companion and the two other horses on the yard and becomes instantly agitated when seperated from them. When taken in from the field and up into the empty yard she becomes very distressed - pacing in her stable and calling to them. Her hay net seems distract her temporarily, but this may only last for 15 minuites!

When riding in the school I find it didifficult to keep her attention on me, no matter how many half halts and circles I try. She often gazes in the direction of her friends. When riding a few weeks ago all the horses were moved into a field out of sight, causing her to become very agitated - she began calling to them and was completely out of my control.

When leading her she often barges into me and treads on my feet, when this happens whats the best way to deal with it head on, if you know what I mean? The lack of respect and trust she has in my makes me feel angery and upset which I know just makes everything worse. I desperately want her to enjoy being ridden by me and feel safe with me and not worry about the absence of her friends. I would love to be able to hack out alone with her rather than working in the school, but it's just not possible at the moment.
It's strange because the first few times I rode her I didn't really have any problems ( I've only been riding her for a couple of months) people have said 'She's just putting it on because she thinks you're soft.' Is this the case? What should I do?!
I just have no idea where to start. Should I join up with her? I've never tried it before but I've read Kelly Marks 'Creating a bond with your horse' and I'm familiar with the stages....

If you've read this far, you're a star and any help/suggestions are very much appreciated! :D

Dusty1228 12-22-2010 09:27 AM

This isn't an answer to your post, but I'm curious too. Jojo does this sometimes, not always. But when he does he keeps himself on high alert and ends up freaking himself out a little.
I CAN say that I know this is frustrating and I sympathize.
I can't wait to see what anyone has to say, because when Jojo does it, I lunge him for a few and he works it all out, but are there other things to try?

RedTree 12-30-2010 07:34 AM

Because she is a share horse I'm not sure if what I will say is possible, but I had the same issue with my horse.

What I did was started taking him out on hand walks, went out for 15mins then slowly built it up to 30mins I went out for an hour one day lol, but this was when I had his respect and everything.
I can now take him on hour long trial rides with out a problem, I do have to hand walk him a bit, but once on the trials he is fine :)

With the respect issues and the barging you will need to do ground work, like lungeing, maybe try a join up if you have a round pen available.
But just do lots of ground work, leading walking and troting by your side, make her move her feet so teach turn on the haunches, forearm, make her move side to side.
You want her attention on you so keep changing everything around.

PaintHorseMares 12-30-2010 08:24 AM

Separation anxiety, herd bound, barn sour....a very common, extremely frustrating situation that takes time, patience, and some trail and error to overcome. Trust and respect are important and part of the answer, but always keep in mind that we can never fully be a substitute for the herd.
In my experience, there can be two separate problems to overcome and I work them differently.

1) Your horse just wants to be with her buddies.
2) Your horse is afraid to be away from her buddies.

I always look at the horse's body language and eyes to get a feel. Horses that are truly afraid tend to be very on edge, stiff, and wide eyed. Also, you typically don't see #2 in herd lead horses that already have a lot of confidence.

For #1, I always work the horse to get their focus off their buddies, even if it is something very simple. My goal is to instill that there is a time for buddies and a time for me, and when with me, I must get the focus and respect and I will not give in.

For #2, I start with close, short rides and lengthen the distance, time and new 'stuff', but always sensitive to the tension in the horse. The goal is to build not only trust, but experience and self confidence being away from the herd. Walking in hand works well with some horses, pushing along under saddle, or pats/rubbing on the neck, etc. for have to see what works best for your horse. Patience and praise, always.

In either (or both) cases, I always end on a good note and never rush to return them to their buddies.

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